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High schools to begin mental health education amid rise in suicides

45 Comments
By Tomomi Miura

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The rise in suicide is not only because of Covid Stress.

It is because of rising stress at school, bullying and incompetent teachers who closes their eyes from the problems of their students.

Additional, pervert teachers who using social media to try to get in sexual contact with their students.

20 ( +26 / -6 )

Mental health education in 2021? Well done japan

22 ( +23 / -1 )

@Monty

You forgot to mention the #1 problem! The home! Alot of Japanese kids do not have a good home life, and are neglected. For example, my neighbor boy is 10. He walks home by himself, gets his snack, walks to the bus to go to swimming, after swimming walks to cram-school. After cram-school he walks home..He does everything himself at age 10! Also, there is the pressure from parents to be perfect and get into Tokyo University so they can be a "yes man" for the rest of their life.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Oh, only now they start doing something. As if this problem just arose since last year.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

I wonder why they want to do this when so many suicides happen during or after mental health "treatment."

0 ( +6 / -6 )

A student in my HS class has mental issues. When she can't stand the stress of English class, a fellow student kindly escorts her out of the classroom to a calmer place. I've made it clear that I'm totally fine with this. Room must be afforded for such people.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Oh, only now they start doing something. As if this problem just arose since last year.

You know they had to do many studies, have many meetings, and needed to be sure that the suicides were increasing and related to the pandemic. Must not act irrational or too hasty. Students might panic if something is done right away.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

This is great in principle - I just hope they don’t go down the usual high school path of introducing a huge, uninteresting tomb of a textbook, and test after test about it.

That wouldn’t help anyone’s mental health.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Laguna

Doesn't sound like a very enjoyable English class!

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

............ right, blame covid ... ignore all the other reasons why hundreds of thousands, I’ll dare to say millions of Japanese kids are unhappy and depressed. Kids aren’t supposed to be unhappy, but again, this is Japan; where there’s no such thing as facing reality, recognize that something is wrong with you and try to fix it. This goes for everybody, parents included.

... yeah, let’s ( just ) blame the pandemic...... it’s easy, right?

...

smh

10 ( +13 / -3 )

It is the school system that makes them suicidal. Adding another class to an already ridiculously overloaded and complex curriculum is not going to help.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Doesn't sound like a very enjoyable English class!

Heh. serendipitous1, I eschew textbooks; instead, I'll put up a target grammar point and some vocabulary on the board and encourage the students to use it in actual mutual conversation in pairs or small groups. It took a bit of time for them to get used to this free-wheeling structure, but now they're really enjoying it. I guess this girl just can't handle the individual responsibility that such an approach requires.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Geez bit behind the times..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The mental health "education" needs to start with the adults responsible for running the school system in Japan that puts too much pressure on students force-feeding them with an excess of mind-numbing lessons, regimentation of conduct with rules, rules, rules, bukatsu dialed to 11 and mountains of homework and prep for exams and tests, tests, tests leaving no time even to get a normal night's sleep so that many kids come to school like zombies stressed out for another boring groundhog day of school grind and, for some, bullying from other children and even from teachers. This system is simply schooling and not education; it is broken and must be radically overhauled so that children are given more free time to spend on READING BOOKS, pursuing hobbies and their own interests in order to develop a solid sense of individuality and establish a firm identity that would have no need for mental health "lessons". To paraphrase the vexatious conundrum posed by the Romans remains: who will educate the educators?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society...

Jiddu Krishnamurti

6 ( +6 / -0 )

People are saying all these external factors such as COVID, family, bullying etc.) are the cause of depression and suicidal tendencies. No!

The main reason people (esp children) become depressed is not what is happening outside, it's what's happening inside (or rather, what is not happening inside).

Children need to learn skills of resilience, self-coping, respect, compassion and love for **themselves.**

Please shift the focus from trying to change the external (which of course, should never be ignored) to the internal for our children.

From a lifetime awareness practitioner.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Monty

 incompetent teachers who closes their eyes from the problems of their students.

I agree with your points Monty and there are no doubt teachers that do this. But anyone that has worked as a teacher here will tell you that Japanese teachers are driven to the point of insanity from overwork. While a lot probably care, they either don't notice or don't have time to deal with situations that aren't totally obvious. They are victims too and don't deserve the blame.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

""following a record number of youth suicides and concerns over the stressful effects of the coronavirus pandemic.""

True, but her is my 2 pennies comment.

Japan needs to eliminate these meaningless tests that students are forced to take at the end of their Jr. High School, at the age of 15 kids and being subjected to a torture test that will decide which high school they can qualify to, that is WRONG.

Kids should move on to High school without this discriminatory test so they can continue their education without being classified as Smart or Not So Smart.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@BertieWooster

I wonder why they want to do this when so many suicides happen during or after mental health "treatment."

Care to elaborate?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Love is all they need.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's all well and good to do more for mental health care, but if the only example of mental health that the students see is teachers being worked to death and/or working in a toxic environment, why should they have any hope? Our teachers' labor union rep used to always message "Everyone please use 5 vacation days in the year!" because no one could/would take time off unless the school was locked/closed. My coteacher would go home at 9pm and never saw his kids. Japan is always so reactionary in regard to healthcare instead of trying to be holistic and make small changes that have positive effects for the long term.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Depression does not happen to those who actively love and respect themselves unconditionally.

Teach and demonstrate unconditional self-love.

I like the approach NZ is going in, kindness and love throughout society, from the government (our PM constantly preaches love and kindness), education, work and the home.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The other side of this pandemic that fails to get enough coverage! The toll on people's psychological well being is huge!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

More attention to mental health is good, but how about more attention to helping to form more centered, well- rounded individuals?

This may sound silly, but I wish there were school dances.

Once a month, in the gymnasium, with music and girls and boys dancing together. It’s a great reliever of stress, a great way for girls and boys to learn how to interact together, and the preparation for them gives the kids something in school to look forward too other than only scholastics and sports.

Music is also a great thing to help release stress.

As a young girl I stood on a stage and stated this same thing, before an audience of students, and teachers,

met with big applause-

It did happen, too.

A simple thing, but a really worthwhile one for young human beings!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good news if true.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If they can do it well, good, but since she starts her spiel by blaming COVID for an issue that has existed for much longer, I know they are not going to do it well.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Such crazy lessons and stupid talking at schools will make them even more mentally sick and as it is even planned compulsory for very young ages, it will end very tragically for a whole generation. Stop that and let check yourself instead, because having such an idea for schools and children is already a sign of very progressed sickness.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

"...... the stressful effects of the coronavirus pandemic."

Sure, this is also taken its toll for sure.

There are, however, many other factors to consider, too!

The education system itself puts a lot of stress on the students.

I'd call it an education-endemic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It seems like a very limited measure for the scale of the problem but I guess everything has to begin small before reaching a proper size to make a difference.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@letsberealistic

This line of thinking - while sounding benign and enlightened at first look - is really a way to place blame upon people who may still be working on their mental illness. It basically blames them for not being strong or good enough.

It’s like that old invalidating hollow platitude for people facing major depression to “just get over it” or “just be positive.” It fails to acknowledge 1. that some mental health conditions have a large organic or genetic factor (eg schizophrenia) that may require more than just a feisty spirit to overcome, and 2. It fails to recognize that severe adverse life experiences, like abuse, in your early childhood years are some of the most robust predictors of future mental health diagnoses. Knowing how to “just love yourself” is something we usually develop from the support of our families early on in life.

If you’re formative years - when both brain and a general sense of self - are spent in a home where caretakers actively degrade your sense of self through abuse or neglect, then yes, it might take more time for others to achieve and it might require help from professionals. So, please stop pathologizing what might be valid emotional expressions of real suffering.

As Frankl said: sometimes, an abnormal reaction is normal, when it is in response to an abnormal situation.

I would argue that achieving the goals mentioned in your email can happen through social support, health education, and professional help.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

letsberealistic:

I like the approach NZ is going in, kindness and love throughout society...

NZ's suicide rate is 11.0 (per 100k pop) in comparison to Japan's (15.3). Perhaps Japan can learn "love" from NZ.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest rates of suicide in 2021:

Lesotho (72.4 per 100k people)

Guyana (40.3 per 100k people)

South Korea (28.6 per 100k people)

Kiribati (28.3 per 100k people)

Micronesia (28.2 per 100k people)

Lithuania (26.1 per 100k people)

Suriname (25.4 per 100k people)

Russia (25.1 per 100k people)

South Africa (23.5 per 100k people)

Ukraine (21.6 per 100k people)

USA's suicide rate is higher than Japan's in 2021 (per 100k pop).

United States 16.1

Finland 15.3

Japan 15.3

Estonia 14.9

Solomon Islands 14.7

Moldova 14.7

Sweden 14.7

Austria 14.6

Switzerland 14.5

In comparison, Honduras, Venezuela, Syria and Jordan are among the countries with least suicide rates (1.6 to 2.1), not exactly a paradise.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

MontyToday 06:56 am JST

The rise in suicide is not only because of Covid Stress.

It is because of rising stress at school, bullying and incompetent teachers who closes their eyes from the problems of their students.

Additional, pervert teachers who using social media to try to get in sexual contact with their students.

Yes, and how about ending those exams that determine what HS schools they will go to, and elminating the conformity and stupid school uniforms? Let the kids be kids! Stop the oppressive cheerless conformity and let the individual minds blossom, quit training them to be robots. It's 2021. Get with it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The post is about student suicides. Those posted suicide rates are for total suicides, all people.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

socrateosToday  01:09 pm JST

letsberealistic:

I like the approach NZ is going in, kindness and love throughout society...

NZ's suicide rate is 11.0 (per 100k pop) in comparison to Japan's (15.3). Perhaps Japan can learn "love" from NZ.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest rates of suicide in 2021:

Lesotho (72.4 per 100k people)

Guyana (40.3 per 100k people)

South Korea (28.6 per 100k people)

Kiribati (28.3 per 100k people)

Micronesia (28.2 per 100k people)

Lithuania (26.1 per 100k people)

Suriname (25.4 per 100k people)

Russia (25.1 per 100k people)

South Africa (23.5 per 100k people)

Ukraine (21.6 per 100k people)

USA's suicide rate is higher than Japan's in 2021 (per 100k pop).

United States 16.1

Finland 15.3

Japan 15.3

Estonia 14.9

Solomon Islands 14.7

Moldova 14.7

Sweden 14.7

Austria 14.6

Switzerland 14.5

In comparison, Honduras, Venezuela, Syria and Jordan are among the countries with least suicide rates (1.6 to 2.1), not exactly a paradise.

I think you misunderstood the premise of my comment - I was not suggesting NZ was a 'paradise' I was simply pointing out I agree with their approach to suicide as it is in its early stages.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Kay BowToday  01:08 pm JST

@letsberealistic

This line of thinking - while sounding benign and enlightened at first look - is really a way to place blame upon people who may still be working on their mental illness. It basically blames them for not being strong or good enough.

It’s like that old invalidating hollow platitude for people facing major depression to “just get over it” or “just be positive.” It fails to acknowledge 1. that some mental health conditions have a large organic or genetic factor (eg schizophrenia) that may require more than just a feisty spirit to overcome, and 2. It fails to recognize that severe adverse life experiences, like abuse, in your early childhood years are some of the most robust predictors of future mental health diagnoses. Knowing how to “just love yourself” is something we usually develop from the support of our families early on in life.

If you’re formative years - when both brain and a general sense of self - are spent in a home where caretakers actively degrade your sense of self through abuse or neglect, then yes, it might take more time for others to achieve and it might require help from professionals. So, please stop pathologizing what might be valid emotional expressions of real suffering.

As Frankl said: sometimes, an abnormal reaction is normal, when it is in response to an abnormal situation.

I would argue that achieving the goals mentioned in your email can happen through social support, health education, and professional help.

I'm not sure what it is about what I said that you disagree (I certainly never said depression suffers should just get over it!), but I agree with most of what you say above.

Again, learning the skills of self-respect and unconditional self-love will, in most cases, weather any external or internal life occurrence.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Under the government's new curriculum guidelines for senior high schools, health and physical education textbooks for use in spring 2022 will feature descriptions of prevention and coping methods to help mentally distressed students deal with problems.

yeah.............

How about instead, getting rid of the center test and university examinations on the same day.

Or maybe the 15 tests in a 3 day span every few weeks.

Or get rid of the pre morning classes and post afternoon classes.

Maybe shorten club activity hours, that end no later than 6 pm and completely ban weekend hours, or at least Sunday.

Perhaps loosen overly strict rules like hair color, length and underwear checks.

Eliminate non stop lecture classes and start infusing social interaction discussion classes.

Allow electives in school, not mandatory only classes.

Arrange core classes according to skills, not by homeroom, or even GASP allowing classes with multiple grade levels in it.

Have faculty that actually tries to prevent bullying.

The list could go on and on, on how to contain suicides. It's a lot more the way the Japanese educational system is set up than anything else.

Monster parents are a different story all together.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's rigid enforcement of senseless highschool rules and bullying by fellow students and teachers that cause a lot of student suicides. Take some of the pressure off of them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Expat: agreed.

The high school problems are a symptom of a ubiquitous problematic Japan. The Japanese cultural and societal ways of the workforce, where adults live for their company life. The rules can be wrong. Their actions can be wrong. There is bullying, and they allow it. There is abuse and they refuse to acknowledge it.

Change and ideas are mostly frowned upon and archaic protocol's continue on and on, as the majority of workers kiss up to the top and the minority that do speak their mind are instantly bullied and become the brunt of blame for everything, no matter if proof shows otherwise. The business hierarchy in Japan is often about avoiding blame themselves and making themselves look good to their superiors. It isn't about true production and is not a meritocracy, it's mostly narrative of a manager who swims in false pools, and the lemmings that follow.

Some of us have experienced directly the gaslighting and constant blame of foreigners in a Japanese work place. It goes against all critical thought, ideas of empathy and fairness. The Japanese never buck their systems for risk of being ostracized, and thus suppress their own thoughts and personalities for the 'greater good of the company'. A person who constantly does this never understands the words 'to thine own self be true'. And with that they don't understand the value of loving themselves, and consequently, others.

In the process they lose themselves as people, not having a true opinion they trust. They're so confused as to who they are as individuals, without being able to express their thoughts properly and with consistency and transparency. They become cowards. And at some point, realize how hollow they have become.

I do feel sorry for how it affects the education system as kids 'learn' in high school, which drive too many to kill themselves.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Marie, you ask me to elaborate.

I lost two family members to mental "health" bungling. Both committed suicide in the middle of "treatment." Also if you google it, you will find shocking numbers of suicides just AFTER mental "health" treatment:

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00502/full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5710249/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8101307/

Plenty more!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

seriously what’s wrong with people??

are some on here trying to dispute corona and associated lockdowns have no effect or kids and their mental health??? Obviously any who think that have no kids!

Not being able to meet friends, worrying about their and their families health...some of you need to get out more obviously!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I also hope, that if and when a suicide unfortunately happens, that the students in the whole school, as well as all of the staff will be offered some proper, professional support. That talking, and expressing ones' feelings would be encouraged and allowed. That teachers would be there to talk with the students, who need to talk about it.

I was a teacher at one point, and sadly one student in the school committed a suicide. I was told of the incident just 5 minutes before going in to class, to teach the classmates of the deceased student - just so, that I would "keep the lesson upbeat and don't talk about anything serious". I wasn't allowed to mention the event with a word, to anyone. The students in her class got something like 20mins counceling each, while other students, teachers, and other staff members got nothing. It was completely brushed under the carpet - the event was not discussed about, we just had to pretend like everything was normal.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

first word that comes to mind when i hear the words 'japanese schools' is 'bullying'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

VinkeToday  07:49 pm JST

I also hope, that if and when a suicide unfortunately happens, that the students in the whole school, as well as all of the staff will be offered some proper, professional support. That talking, and expressing ones' feelings would be encouraged and allowed. That teachers would be there to talk with the students, who need to talk about it.

I was a teacher at one point, and sadly one student in the school committed a suicide. I was told of the incident just 5 minutes before going in to class, to teach the classmates of the deceased student - just so, that I would "keep the lesson upbeat and don't talk about anything serious". I wasn't allowed to mention the event with a word, to anyone. The students in her class got something like 20mins counceling each, while other students, teachers, and other staff members got nothing. It was completely brushed under the carpet - the event was not discussed about, we just had to pretend like everything was normal.

We need to stop the pretending and shoving it under the rug. it's 2021.

This isn't 1960.

This isn't 1990.

This is now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with the people who said the kids here need less structure and control in their lives, and more free time to just go play with their friends. Kids who get to goof around, chat silliness, and just generally play and relax with one another are almost always happier than isolated kids who are focused on tests.

I agree with more dances, parties, and less structure.

As for families, this focus on perfect kids and protecting them from ever making mistakes is creating fearful and stressed out kids with little resilience. Let the kids climb trees, get dirty, don't wear brand clothing, and enjoy a messy mistake filled childhood. How can you build a real self-confidence if you don't know what you can do and who you are?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was a teacher at one point, and sadly one student in the school committed a suicide. I was told of the incident just 5 minutes before going in to class, to teach the classmates of the deceased student - just so, that I would "keep the lesson upbeat and don't talk about anything serious". I wasn't allowed to mention the event with a word, to anyone. The students in her class got something like 20mins counceling each, while other students, teachers, and other staff members got nothing. It was completely brushed under the carpet - the event was not discussed about, we just had to pretend like everything was normal.

I've been in a similar situation. I was absolutely shocked at the shroud of secrecy around the death. I got out of schools shortly thereafter. Abhorrent places that absolutely suck the spirit out of people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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